The Cowichan Valley Capitals lost both ends of a home-and-home series with the Victoria Grizzlies this week, but were given a boost by the performance on Wednesday of a newly acquired goaltender.
Michael Corson, who the Caps brought in from Ontario on Tuesday, relieved starter J.J. Pichette after the first period of Wednesday’s game and stopped all 25 shots that he faced. The Caps ended up on the wrong side of a 4-2 final score, but Corson’s outing gave the team reason to be optimistic.
Pichette had shouldered the bulk of the load in net since signing with the Caps in mid-November, and the addition of Corson should give the Caps a stronger one-two punch at the position. Corson was leading the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League in goals-against average (2.00) and save percentage (.949), and had a 12-4-1 record when the Caps acquired him from the Blind River Beavers in exchange for future considerations. The 18-year-old from Darien, Illinois had been named one of the NOJHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 24 after making 53 saves in a 2-1 double overtime loss and 39 saves in a 2-1 win, the second time this season he was named to the league’s three stars.
Corson made his Cowichan debut at home on Wednesday after Pichette allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first period. He made 12 saves in the second period and 13 in the third before being lifted for the extra attacker in the final seconds. The Grizzlies added an empty-netter with Corson on the bench.
Trailing 3-0, the Caps got on the board in the second when Tate Coughlin scored on the powerplay, his third goal in three games and sixth in just 13 games with Cowichan this year. Captain Troy MacTavish added his ninth of the campaign midway through the third, but that was as close as it would get.
Pichette was coming off a busy night on Tuesday, when he made 45 saves in a 5-3 loss to the Grizzlies in Victoria. The Caps trailed 3-1 after the first period and 4-1 after the second before they outscored the Grizzlies 2-1 in the third. Ty Pochipinski had a goal and an assist, Coughlin and Nicholas Wilson also scored, and Azzaro Tinling had two helpers.
The 2017 calendar year ended on a sour note for the Caps last Saturday when a missed call by the officials led to the winning goal in a 4-3 loss to the Nanaimo Clippers at the ISC.
The linesmen missed an obvious offside on Tristan Crozier’s game-winner with 2:35 left in regulation. Head coach Brian Passmore was irate at the error, and assistant coach Dan Whiteford was ejected from the game. When the officials made the correct call on another Nanaimo offside moments later, the crowd broke into sarcastic applause.
The Clippers had taken a 1-0 lead on a powerplay goal in the first period. Defenceman Andrew McCann tied it for Cowichan six and a half minutes into the second, then the Caps took the lead on goals by Tinling at 11:11 and Coughlin at 14:54. Nanaimo responded exactly a minute after Coughlin’s goal, then made it 3-3 with 26 seconds left in the middle period.
McCann finished with a goal and an assist, while Crozier and Cal Babych each put up three points for the Clippers. Parker Swanson, an AP goalie from the Kerry Park Islanders, made his first junior A start and stopped 23 of 27 shots.
The three losses since Christmas put a stop to Cowichan’s best stretch of the year. The Caps have just six wins in 38 games this season, but four of them had come in the last six games before the holiday break. The team remains last in the B.C. Hockey League, trailing the Coquitlam Express by four points and three wins, and lags behind the Alberni Valley Bulldogs for fourth in the Island Division by 12 points and five wins.
The Caps will play their next five games on the road, beginning with two in Powell River this weekend. They return to the ISC on Jan. 17, when they host the Bulldogs at 7 p.m.